Share Your Story  —  Senior Snapshot

James and Elena Conaway were a typical couple throughout their Stage II work life. As they prepared for retirement, they discovered that they shared an interest in having their own business, and that they both loved working with crystals.

The idea came to them that as a retirement career they would join together as business partners as well as life partners. Their joint mission would be to create and sell crystal art and jewelry, incorporating Swarovski crystals into their work. This was to be more than just a commercial enterprise for them, believing as they did that: "Crystals inspire our minds to embrace light, beauty, clarity, and our sense of awe. Since our energy follows our consciousness, crystals are a wonderful reminder to stay aware of the magical lightness of being and to be present in the light of the rainbow of love and peace."

Crystal Underground

Together they opened a shop called The Crystal Underground ( in their hometown in Maryland. Soon they added to their initial sales venue by developing a sales website, and also by joining the Renaissance Faire circuit, where they now offer their crystal, quartz, and gemstone creations to a broader audience.

The Crystal Underground is now a regular at the Arizona Renaissance Faire in February and March, the Colorado Faire in June and July, the Minnesota Faire in August and September, and the North Carolina Faire in October and November. They meet and greet their customers dressed in full renaissance garb, James in pantaloons and waistcoat and a velvet trimmed hat… Elena in gown and brocaded vest, draped in jewels. And they stay in character, addressing their clients in the language and style of “olde”: ”Yes, m’Lady.” “May I be of assistance, m’Lord?”

Adding to the “adventure” of this Renaissance-themed fair circuit , they camp out under the stars during festivals, using a popup trailer. Thus they enjoy total togetherness as a couple, and are in touch with nature during the loveliest season in each of four states. And since the same vendors return year after year to these faire venues, generally with their shops set up in the same spot, Elena and James have formed friendships with other like-minded, like-spirited, and similarly adventuresome missuses and gents.

Share Your Story  —  Share Your Story

Share your Shifting Gears story. Where have you come from? What have been the challenges? What's good? What needs changing? Are you on your own or with a spouse or partner? Are you living where you lived before you retired, or have you moved on? If you have moved on, where and why? What will be your fulfilling retirement "work" of choice? How did you or will you get there?

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